April bond vote likely for growing Prairie schools

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City facing enrollment changes

CEDAR RAPIDS — A steady rise in enrollment has the College Community school district ready to ask voters to fund a new elementary school this spring.

“Our elementary buildings are at capacity now,” said Steve Doser, the district’s communications director. “We’ll be going to the voters in April and asking them to support a bond to build a new elementary.”

State enrollment data released Tuesday show that College Community’s student population grew 14 percent between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, representing the fifth-fastest rate in Iowa. The district added 563 students during that period — the fourth-highest number in the state — raising total enrollment from 3,945 to 4,508.

“We’ve been watching the growth and projecting when we might need a new elementary,” Doser said. “It’s actually exceeded our projections.”

The district has formed a committee to put together a formal bond proposal for an April 3 ballot.

Officials hope to open a new elementary building by 2014.

Iowa City

The Iowa City school district is dealing with more sudden growth. It added 442 students this academic year alone, the second-most in the state, to put its enrollment at 12,453.

This year wasn’t a fluke, either: The district’s 735-student growth in the past five years is the third-highest total in the state.

Those numbers have fueled discussions of a possible third high school in Iowa City.

The district will open the new Borlaug Elementary School next school year to replace the outdated Roosevelt Elementary building, which will close after this academic year.

Cedar Rapids

On the flip side of the enrollment picture, the Cedar Rapids school district lost 968 students in the past five years — nearly three times more than any other district in Iowa. The next closest was Fort Dodge, which lost 327 students.

District officials are looking at closing as many as three elementary schools to address decreasing enrollment.

At a Dec. 20 meeting, a special committee offered up two proposals, both of which involve shutting down Polk Elementary and Monroe Elementary. One option would also close Madison Elementary, while the other includes decommissioning Harrison Elementary instead.

Superintendent David Benson plans to present those options to the community before making a recommendation to the school board.

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